Tampa police are investigating a suspected case of elder abuse. The body of 82-year-old Louise Holmes was found in her home on North 38th Street Tuesday. Police say she was living in deplorable conditions.
"Once officers went into the home, they discovered rats, roaches, the roof was falling in, pieces of the roof were on the floor, there was no water, no electricity," said Tampa Police Spokesperson Andrea Davis.
Holmes' only child James Holmes is charged with neglecting his mother. Investigators say they don't believe his story that he checked on her every day. They are looking into what he did with the money she received every month.
Louise Holmes' nephew Bobby Hall says he called police and an elderly abuse hotline in 2011. Davis confirms that Tampa Police officers visited the house three times that year, as back up for special welfare investigators.
The Florida Department of Children and Families confirms they visited the house with TPD in 2011. DCF concluded that Holmes had the capacity to make decisions for herself and the agency says she refused help.
Hall believes officials should've done more.
"I called not only the police, but I called the elderly abuse line and they came out -- the police and the people came out -- and they knocked on the door several times and she finally came to the door. And they talked with her, but then they did not do anything," Hall said.
This is the third case of severe elderly neglect in the Bay area in less than a month. DCF says they investigate about 200 reports of elderly abuse in Hillsborough County alone each month.
"I think a lot of times, the person has the best intentions, but they just get overwhelmed by the situation," DCF spokesperson Terri Durdaller said Wednesday.
DCF says neighbors can help curb the number of these horrendous crimes. They encourage people to take note of their neighbors, and leave a confidential tip with DCF if they suspect something is wrong inside the home.
"We need to community to be our eyes and ears," Durdaller said.
James Holmes could face additional charges, pending the results of his mother's autopsy.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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